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Archive for February, 2011

“if it was ok to put my face in it, i would”

oh the cheesecake. this is one of those desserts i have been wanting to spend some time on for a quite a while. they make me nervous…don’t overbake…don’t overmix and for goodness sakes….don’t let the top crack! bah! so much pressure! but to tell you the truth….i kind of like pressure and challenges….and i’m not one to give up without a good fight.

the baking bibles (cake, pastry and bread by rose levy beranbaum) are where i usually turn first for quality recipes. rose boasted that this cheesecake recipe has made some turn up their noses to restaurant cheese cakes saying, “I don’t eat cheesecake out!” sounds like a good starting place to me.

ingredients:
crust:
20 oreos
1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)

cake:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sour cream
9 oz white chocolate chips (melted)

equipment:
9 inch springform pan
food processor
aluminum foil
roasting pan – large enough to fit your springform pan

preheat your oven to 350º

begin with you crust. in your food processor finely chop oreo cookies and mix in melted butter.

prepare your springform pan. generously butter the bottoms and side of pan. place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom of the pan and butter paper as well. coat the bottom of the pan with cookie crumb mixture. take three or four pieces of aluminum foil and lay them down on top of each other so they all crisscross in different directions. place your pan on top and pull foil up along the sides of your pan, being careful not to tear it anywhere. this foil’s job is to protect your cake from the water seeping in so take it seriously. transfer to fridge to chill.

in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt your chocolate chips. remove from heat and let cool – still give it a stir here and there so it won’t harden back up.

in your stand mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar till well blended. add in eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl between. add in lemon juice, vanilla and salt. beat in sour cream until just blended. avoid overmixing as it will create air bubbles and possibly cause cracking. add in your melted chocolate, mixing till just blended.

pour batter into pan over crust. add about an inch of hot water to a roasting pan. set your springform pan inside the water and roasting pan. transfer to oven.

bake for 45 minutes. once that timer rings, turn your oven off and let your cheesecake stay put for another hour….trying your very hardest to not open the oven door at all… not while baking and not for the extra hour afterwards. (i mean, i couldn’t help myself….i was too curious….but you try your best not to!) once your hour is up, transfer springform to cooling rack and let cool to room temperature – about another hour and then cover and transfer to fridge to chill overnight.

to unmold, run a knife around the edge of your pan and then remove springform. i added extra cookie crumbs to the side at this point.

serve chilled!

so, lets talk about the waterbath…scared? i was too. i decided to give myself enough time to make two different cheesecakes…just so that i could test out the waterbath method without the pressure of my first cake being the one i would share…which was a good thing, because my first attempt was foiled. i didn’t bake it long enough…so i had a mushy center and the water had seeped into the pan, so i had a soggy crust. waa waa. the outside of the cake was very tasty though, so i was conflicted….should i try the waterbath again…and risk another fail…or just bake it without the waterbath…and not get the experience i wanted.

well, i went for it. i took the two problems into consideration and was extra careful wrapping the springform pan with foil making sure  and double sure there were no tears or gaps. i also gave it an extra 5 minutes in the oven, making my baking time 50 minutes. all the books and blogs will say, when you take it out of the oven, the sides will appear set and the middle will still jiggle when you shake the pan slightly…as it cools…the cake will set all the way through. it’s hard to know how much jiggle is too much…which is probably why i moved forward with my first cake to quickly.

this time it appeared that the cake had set all the way through once it finished cooling…but only in cutting it, would i know for sure. when i brought it into work i had B slice it…cause i was so nervous that it hadn’t baked through. “it’s like butter” she exclaimed when she cut the first slice. phrew! it came out perfectly….creamy, rich cheesecake. mmmm….i want another piece right now, just thinking about it.

so, success! rose…you win, you always do. it will still be a while before i take over cheesecake factory…but watch out! i’m on my way!

happy valentine’s from your lazy birds! hope you have a delicious day!

-L

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God could have killed me today.

sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true.
(maybe you shouldn’t read this one mama)

since i grew up and learned to drive in iowa, i feel fairly confident taking my rear-wheel drive town car (tony) out on slippery roads…when necessary. i learned how to maneuver him through the slickest of terrains…how to correct him when he fishtails…and not to park him facing uphill unless i plan on backing out of the spot. when my dad gave me the car….he said,…”it’s not a car for northern weather, so be careful.” so, when i moved to dallas three years ago, i knew tony would be just as happy about the warm weather as i was.

dallas faces few “artic blasts” but when they do…it’s trouble. this is mainly because it’s not common and no one knows how to respond to it. the roads are bad and the drivers are worse. most businesses shut down and schools begin closing with just the predictions of snow in the forecast. it’s laughable to a northerner….but also terribly frightening. frightening because, where i once had confidence…i now have uncertainty and anxiety.

i drove to work this morning a total of four blocks to the interstate and then about fifteen miles to get to the office….the only office in dallas, that never seems to shut down. the roads were covered with ice….every bit of them, even the interstate. the news reported 60 sand trucks patrolling the major highways and overpasses. (sand…another thing i’m not use to as a northerner….we take our slick roads with salt, please) as i drove in, i was surrounded by about 20 other drivers…a drastically smaller amount than the normal rush hour holds, but still 20 too many as far as i was concerned.

to me, it looked like the sand was being mostly reserved for the ramps, bridges and overpasses….if there was more on the road, it had already been covered up with the snow that was blowing around. some people drove fast…and some people drove slow….most of them drove way to close to each other and me. there was fishtailing, panicked braking at the sight of ice, skidding and spinning across four lanes of traffic and slamming into a median wall….there was danger, life threatening danger…and that’s what makes an iowan…not so confident to brave the slick roads in texas.

not only were the drivers around me frantic, inexperienced, horrible winter drivers…but my own car was the most stubborn i have seen him in a long time. he fishtailed the whole way to work…up hills, across bridges…just for his own enjoyment?! i must have scared every driver around me to death with the amount of times my backside wandered into the next lane.

when i finally got into the office…hands still gripping my steering wheel at ten and two….i probably took my first deep breath of the drive…and immediately wanted to cry. i can’t explain it any better than just saying, i’m a girl…and sometimes that’s the only response i can muster. (for the record, i didn’t actually cry)

i got to my desk and pulled up the first assignment i could think of, just to dive into thinking about anything besides how i could have really injured myself on the way in to work today.

the first time i spoke out loud to a coworker, my voice cracked and my eyes immediately filled with tears…i was just overwhelmed….and didn’t know why these emotions were surfacing. it just seemed silly. i turned back to my monitor and put my headphones in and turned the music up…and took a few deep breaths to stifle the tears that were trying to make their way out of my eyes.

i finally made my way to the bathroom, to pull it together and thought…i could be at home, but i’m not….i could have died on my way here…but I didn’t. God gave me this day…and he protected me all the way to work. so, what should my response be? should I be upset that the weather is so horrible?…should I be mad that my office was open and I drove up here?….or should I be grateful that I have been given this day, ice, scary car drive and all…and was protected from harm throughout it? admittedly, i was feeling the former.

God could have killed me today…but he didn’t. sometimes it takes a treacherous day…to remember how grateful i should be for every day. because my time is fleeting, I am a mist…here in the morning and gone with the afternoon sun. I have been praying lately for a better grasp of how quickly the days pass…and to have open eyes for opportunities and a grateful and trusting heart for God’s will for me. in hindsight, this morning’s experience put those prayers into practice…and while i can’t say i’m proud of how long it took to gain perspective….i am grateful for the lesson…and the grace and mercy that comes with it.

Psalm 39:4&5
“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah”

-L

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“if you eat it in the dark, no one can see it” said my husband after I showed him why we at lazybird bakery do not, and i repeat, do not and will not decorate cakes. it’s too risky. i have FABULOUS ideas in my head that quickly snowball into horrendous displays of creativity. haha. but wow, that cake tastes good, and if you ask me that’s what’s important! remember this, don’t judge a book by its cover.

we’ve been writing this blog for some time now and we’ve yet to run out of ideas which is great, but sometimes we need a little push. so i called my little brother this week and asked him what i should make and the first thing that came out of his mouth was carrot cake. done. perfect. i love carrot cake and pretty much anything with a little spice to it. then throw some cream cheese icing on top, shut the front door. you’re going to need a nap after this one. it’s amazing. thanks Martha Stewart. Read more at Marthastewart.com: Carrot Cake – Martha Stewart Recipes

ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 pound grated carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots)
2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake) optional.

equipment

stand mixer
mixing bowls/prep bowls
veggie peeler
crisco shortening
3 – 9″ cake pans
parchment paper

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

carrot cake

first things first. i went ahead and grated my carrots because it took forever. i haven’t peeled and grated in so long. i forgot just how time-consuming a task it was. so once i grated them, i covered with plastic wrap and placed back in the fridge while i got everything else together.

before using crisco to coat pans, go ahead and trace three circles the size of your pans, onto parchment paper. cut out and set aside. now coat your pans, place the parchment paper down into the bottom of the pan, and cover the paper with more crisco. lightly dust with flour, making sure to flour the edges of your pans. this will ensure that your cake doesn’t stick to the pans once baked!

in a large bowl go ahead and add your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. whisk together, making sure all ingredients are well mixed. in your stand mixer bowl, mix your sugars and your butter and whip until creamy. once creamy add eggs one at a time, mixing continuously, followed by vanilla, water and carrots. reduce the speed then add the flour mixture. if adding pecans go ahead and add them now.

using a spatula scrape out dough evenly into the three 9″ pans. bake pans for 15 minutes. turn pans half way around and bake for 10 more minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. once ready pull from oven and set pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. scrape edges with a knife to help loosen the cake. flip over onto wire racks and let cool completely.

while that’s cooling or even baking, go ahead and start your cream cheese icing. read more at Marthastewart.com: Cream Cheese Frosting – Martha Stewart Recipes

ingredients

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. of powdered sugar

cream cheese icing

first things first. in your mixer blend cream cheese and vanilla extract. once creamy cut the butter into T size slices and one by one, add to the cream cheese while the mixer is going. lower your speed and add the powdered sugar. your icing should be fluffy and smooth. this icing will keep in an airtight container for two days. bring to room temp. and mix well before icing your cake.

now that your icing is ready, set aside and clear off a space so that you can start assembling your cake. there are lots of ways to do this, but here is what i did. I took my first layer and laid it bottom side up. this way i have a flat surface to ice. apply icing. lay second layer same way, apply icing. for the third layer and lay correct side up, so that it is dome shaped. ice. here is where i should have stopped. cakes look great when their layers are exposed. but due to a lapse in judgement i just kept going, as did Martha, if you check her icing recipe. her cake is beautiful and she decided to use the remaining pecans as decoration to the sides. it’s elegant. but if you’re going for a circus big top look, such as myself, GO CRAZY. the sky’s the limit!

please enjoy.

-b

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“why do they call it monkey bread?” -little spindler girls
“cause if you eat it, you’ll turn into a monkey” – mama spindler
(most likely followed by papa spindler’s impression of a monkey)

me and monkey bread go way back. my mom always made monkey bread for  special occasion dinners like birthdays or christmas….which might sound weird to you? cause monkey bread is sweet and more of a brunch time bread?! not at the spindler house. our monkey bread was always made without the cinnamon and sugar…so it was just yummy buttery bread…a perfect compliment to a steak dinner. it wasn’t till 7th grade and home ec that i realized there was another interpretation of the bread….and while I still love my family’s tradition/version of the bread….i’m also a lover of anything cinnamon.

(don’t worry mama…apparently nancy reagan also believed in monkey bread sans sweetness. her white house holiday recipe was published in the American Cancer Society cookbook in 1985.)

ingredients:
(sponge)
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water
41/2 cup flour

(coating)
1 stick butter – melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

begin with your sponge. dissolve yeast and sugar into warm water. the go-to temperature is 110°. you need to be careful with your water temperature here, as yeast tends to be picky. if it’s too hot or too cold your yeast won’t play nice and neither will your bread. my tap water at it hottest was 120º so i let it sit for a while till the temperature dropped and then added yeast and sugar. set this mixture aside and let it rise.

in your stand mixer, with your bread hook attachment, mix together sugar, oil and salt. beat your egg and then add to sugar mixture.

your sponge (yeast/water mixture) should have risen by now…the tell tell sign is its frothy top.

add sponge and water to mixer. with your mixer on a slow speed, begin adding flour about a half a cup at a time. as you continue adding flour, the dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the mixer and form into a ball. this is pretty sticky dough, so don’t panic if you’re three cups of flour in and still don’t feel like you could knead the dough by hand without turning into a sticky dough mess. for me, once i got to four cups of flour, i felt comfortable  turning the dough out to a floured surface and giving it some kneading time with my hands with the last half cup of flour. i like to do this just to get a good feel for how soft or dry the dough is…it’s always best for your dough to be slightly sticky to the touch, so kneading it by hand gives me a good idea of what i’m working with.

once your dough is nice and kneaded, transfer it back to a bowl and cover with a damp towel so it can rise…about an hour…or till it’s doubled in size – whatever comes first.

once your dough has risen, give it one good punch and the transfer to a floured surface. melt your butter in one bowl…and mix together your brown sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. this will set up your dipping and coating station. roll out dough till it is about a half an inch thick. using a floured pizza cutter, cut dough into inch wide strips or squares. dip your dough into melted butter, then coat in brown sugar and transfer to bundt pan. drizzle remaining butter over dough. cover and let rise for about another hour.

preheat you oven to 350º. the extra warmth from the oven will probably even help your dough rise faster.

your bread will bake for 20-25 minutes. the top will begin to brown…i waited till mine was past the golden stage and just into the light brown stage before i removed mine…just to make sure all the edges would be baked. all that extra goo and butter will make the top of your bread very soft….melt-in-your-mouth-amazing soft

remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before flipping upside down and removing from pan.

serve warm.

I. Love. Monkey. Bread. and I think you will too. with or without the sugar, this bread is delicious and hard to stop nibbling on if it’s within reach. add a cream cheese dipping glaze…and it’s hopeless. monkey bread = success…every time.

also…if you’ve been trying to justify buying these cute little dishes…but have no idea what you would use them for…here’s your excuse:

personal sized monkey bread! these little buddies have come in handy on more than one occasion for left over dough or cake batter….or reheating/baking leftover pasta and feeling fancy about it. they are adorable and cut down on waste…as i always end up with more batter/dough than i anticipated.

do it…you know you want to.

-L

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